Milton stymies Royals

? Eric Milton made a case to be picked for the All-Star game.

Pitching effectively into the eighth inning, Milton picked up his ninth win, and Jim Thome hit his major-league-leading 21st homer to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, Saturday night.

Placido Polanco also homered for the Phillies in their first victory over Kansas City since Game 6 of the 1980 World Series.

Milton (9-1) tied Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Kenny Rogers for the most wins in the majors.

The left-hander had his best outing in 14 starts for the Phillies since being acquired from Minnesota in the offseason. He allowed six hits, walked three and tied a season high with eight strikeouts in seven-plus innings.

Milton won his fourth straight decision and became the first Phillies pitcher to begin a season 9-1 since Danny Jackson in 1994. That season, Jackson was the last Phillies starter to make the All-Star team.

Phillies manager Larry Bowa believes that his pitcher may earn a spot on the All-Star team.

“He would have to be considered,” Bowa said. “Nine is a lot of wins with just one loss.

Milton is 13-2 with eight straight wins against the Royals.

Coming off his shortest outing of the season, a three-inning no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on June 14, Milton counted on a heavy workload against the Royals.

“I needed to go deep into the game,” Milton said. “The bullpen has been overworked lately.”

Milton, who threw 134 pitches, took a shutout into the eighth, but left after giving up back-to-back singles to Mike Sweeney and Ken Harvey with none out.

Tim Worrell walked Joe Randa, loading the bases, but coaxed Angel Berroa to ground into a run-scoring double play, cutting the lead to 3-1.

Royals reliever Scott Sullivan walked three in the eighth, including Mike Lieberthal with the bases loaded, making it 4-1.

Worrell got the final out in the eighth, and Billy Wagner worked the ninth for his 10th save in 12 opportunities. He gave up an RBI single to Carlos Beltran.

Berroa stole four bases, one shy of the team record set by Amos Otis in 1971. Berroa had one stolen base this season before the game.

Philadelphia jumped on 20-year-old starter Zack Greinke (1-3), the youngest player in the majors, for two runs in the first inning.

Polanco lined his third homer to left-center for a 1-0 lead.

“It was too early in the game to try and fool guys, 3-1 fastball and he just hit it,” Greinke said of Polanco’s homer.

Bobby Abreu and Thome followed with consecutive singles, and Pat Burrell reached on shortstop Berroa’s fielding error, allowing Abreu to score.

Thome connected for career homer No. 402 in the sixth, a solo shot to the second level of seats in right field for a 3-0 lead. It was his major-league-record 40th interleague home run.

Greinke worked six innings, giving up three runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out six.

After his shaky start, Greinke settled down and yielded two hits in his final five innings.

“He didn’t make any bad pitches,” Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. “I’m very happy with him.”

Kansas City stranded 10 runners, including seven in scoring position.

Notes: Wagner allowed a walk in the ninth, his only free pass in 21 innings this season. … Milton is 51-27 since 2000. … The Royals had five stolen bases. … The Phillies have 85 homers since April 15 — most in the majors. … Kansas City turned its major league-leading 80th double play. … Harvey, playing just his third game in the outfield, ran hard into the left-field wall while chasing Abreu’s drive in the eighth. He appeared to hurt his left knee but remained in the game. “He’s fine,” Pena said.